Making Photo Slideshow DVD’s under Linux

As there are no simpler graphical tools available under Linux for this purpose, I’m explaining the method to create a slideshow video DVD of images/photos using a commandline tool called dvd-slideshow. Don’t be scared. It’s not that hard 🙂

It can be installed via Synaptic under Ubuntu OR you can fetch the latest from here.

Preparing your slideshow

Before generating a slideshow, you need to produce an input file which specifies which pictures to use, how long each picture stays on the screen and which transition effect is applied.

The simplest way to do it is to put all of your pictures in one directory and run dir2slideshow. This will create the input file for the next step. Although there are many configuration options, this command should give you acceptable defaults:

dir2slideshow -n 'test slideshow' -t 5 -c 1 slideshow_pictures

This asks to take all the (JPEG or PNG) pictures from slideshow_pictures, show them for 5 seconds and then crossfade to the next picture for 1 second. It generates a test_slideshow.txt input file. Pretty standard defaults, but the link above gives you a description of all the options available.

An interesting switch is -p if you want to generate a PAL slideshow instead of default NTSC.

You have then a file describing your slideshow’s characteristics. Its syntax is fairly straightforward; you can hand-edit it if needed.

Generating the slideshow

Once you are happy with your input file, generating the slideshow is something as simple as typing:

dvd-slideshow -n 'test slideshow' -f test_slideshow.txt

If you add the switch:

-a audiotrack.ogg

it will add an audio track to the slideshow. The result will be 2 files: test_slideshow.xml and test_slideshow.vob. You can try playing your slideshow with mplayer:

mplayer test_slideshow.vob

If you are happy with it, you can move to defining the menu. The thing which this tool amazes me is that it took only 22 minutes to render 580 photos to a DVD video with 10 mp3 sound tracks. In Windows media player, making a video of 100 images with audio backgrounds will surely take more than half an hour 🙂

Making DVD menus

You can use the tool “DVD Styler” for this purpose. (Availabe in Synaptic)


Filed under Applications, Linux, Multimedia, Tips, Ubuntu

Encrypt Emails within Firefox

FireGPG is a Firefox extension under MPL which brings an interface to encrypt, decrypt, sign or verify the signature of text in any web page using GnuPG. FireGPG adds some features to the Gmail1 interface, to let you use GPG’s features directly in your webmail. More webmails will probably be supported in the future. FireGPG is able to detect PGP blocks in any page (for example a public key), and lets you easily manage these different blocks.

FireGPG isn’t a key manager. You must install the GnuPG software!

On GNU/Linux and Mac OS, it’s GnuPG. You can install it with your favourite package manager (like Synaptic, YaST, Yum, etc.) or from its official website.

If you are using Microsoft Windows, you have to download WinPT and GPG, and install it at the default location.

Install FireGPG

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Filed under Applications, Linux, Tips

Building RPM Kernel Packages

Extract and customize the kernel

1. Log in as root, extract the kernel sources:

tar jxf linux-.tar.bz2 -C /usr/src

2. Customize the kernel with make menuconfig, make xconfig, etc… Create two copies of the .config file and save them in /usr/src/linux<version>-:

.config: this copy has to provide the configuration for the single processor kernel
.config_smp: this copy has to provide the configuration the dual processor (SMP) kernel

3. Copy the linux<version>-.tar.bz2 you downloaded in /usr/src/redhat/SOURCES/

4. Copy my_kernel.spec in /usr/src/redhat/SPECS/

5. Customize the fields Version, Release, description and kernel24 definition in my_kernel.spec. Please note that:

Version has to be the kernel version (e.g. “2.4.33”)
Release should be customized (e.g. “xeon_1.0”). Release will be used for the “EXTRAVERSION” variable in the main kernel Makefile, so you should get at the end that the output of “uname -r” is exactly Version-Release (in this case “2.4.33-xeon_1.0” and “2.4.33-xeon_1.0smp” for the SMP version).
Set kernel24 1 if you are compiling a 2.4 kernel, 0 if it is a 2.6 kernel.

Rebuild the kernel

To recompile the kernel:

rpm -ba /usr/src/redhat/SPECS/my_kernel.spec


rpmbuild -ba /usr/src/redhat/SPECS/my_kernel.spec

You should get two binary packages (kernel-* and kernel-smp-*) in: /usr/src/redhat/RPMS/i386/

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Filed under Configuration, Linux, Tips

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

Ubuntu has released its latest non-LTS version Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex this month. Seems to have a lot of additional features in this version than in Hardy Heron. I haven’t had a hand on the latest version yet. Waiting for the CD arrival from ShipIt.
You can find a nice review of Ubuntu Intrepid from here

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National Free Software Conference

A National Conference on FREE SOFTWARE is being held on the 15th & 16th of November, 2008 at the campus of Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi. The 2007 Conference was held in Hyderabad.

Information Technology (IT) has revolutionised the way people communicate and enterprises run their business. Internet has provided yet another space, the cyber space, facilitating people round the globe to organise themselves in newer forms. There is no debate that our country, its people and institutions need this technology for its progress.

Understand Software

Software is an important component of an IT application, if not the most important. Software remained in the public domain till nineteen eighties. In the eighties, it was taken over by business interests and is now a private property with Intellectual Property Right (IPR) restrictions. The impact of patents and copyrights which are various forms of IPR are basically two fold. On the one hand it has restricted the transfer and growth of knowledge in society through monopolisation, while on the other hand it has resulted in the siphoning of wealth from the brick and mortar economy to the cyber economy at alarming proportions.

Conference Overview

The Conference will be a milestone in the history of the Free Software movement in India. The event will comprise of


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My handwriting on my machine

Hello everyone. These days I was experimenting with fonts and font designing. I asked Hiran about font designing and he told me some useful tips. Then I began to design a font of my own handwriting using tools like Inkscape and Fontforge. Now I designed English small letters of my handwriting font. But its lacking the original style, still have to adjust the spacing and curving. But I’ll work on it and post it here when its complete. So, for anybody who likes my handwiting, its happy news. Yeah, it’ll be freely available here and you can use it in your favourite word processing software. My friends, please make suggestions on the fonts coz I’d like to know if its really look like mine’s. I call this font ‘SreeHand’.


Filed under Personal, Research

Securing your system from Internet threats using OpenDNS

Changing your Deault DNS provided by the ISP to OpenDNS makes the Web experience more secure and more customized. You can block several sites having viruses, spywares, pornography etc. in a simpler way. Also you can make shotcuts for adreesses that are easy to use with. For example, you only need to type mail to go to if you set the shortcuts properly using OpenDNS. This service is free of cost, and its much faster.

To use OpenDNS you need to register an account at OpenDNS. If you’re using broadband internet such as BSNL, you need to setup the Primary and Secondary DNS to OpenDNS. To do this, follow

  1. Type/Click in your browser to go to your DSL Router / Modem
  2. Enter Username and Password (May be both are admin)
  3. Select DNS and use custom instead of Default DNS. Enter the Primary and secondary DNS as and
  4. Save and reboot the DSL Router.

You can change the settings at OpenDNS Dashbord. Use your security level and shortcuts.

You also need a client side program called ddclient for active communication with OpenDNS (To report your dynamic IP addresses to OpenDNS). It can be downloaded at Windows and Mac versions are available at OpenDNS site. For Ubuntu it is availabe via Synaptic.

sudo apt-get install ddclient

The configuration file for OpenDNS is like (in /etc/ddclient/ddclient.conf)

## OpenDNS



Filed under Configuration, News, OpenDNS